FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Military Health Project & Foundation Founder Stepping Down
In a letter to supporters Jacob Angel, announced that he is leaving as the organization’s President & Executive Director.
Friday, May 24rd, 2019
Dearest Friends and Supporters,
After six years of working to establish healthcare parity and equity for service-members, veterans and military families, I will be stepping down as the President and Executive Director of the Military Health Project & Foundation (MHP&F) at the end of June. It has been a distinct privilege and honor to serve our nation’s military community and to work alongside so many impassioned advocates, policy makers and people. I am beyond proud of the work we have done together and will continue to do on behalf of our defenders, so they may continue to know they are supported by a larger community.
When I founded this organization, it was with an idea, two friends and a shoestring budget. I can still remember sitting around my kitchen table trying to come up with a name that did not sound patronizing or cliché. We did not have all the answers in the beginning but kept moving forward despite the obvious challenges and obstacles in our way. This started as the Military Mental Health Project a dedicated advocacy organization seeking to shake up and improve mental health parity within the military and veterans’ health care systems. It was a quick realization that the wheels of government turn slowly and that a policy fix was not sufficient for folks who needed immediate help. In order to provide some relief for those people we re-organized and launched again as the Military Health Project & Foundation. With the creation of a new entity, we started a financial aid program to assist with the uncovered cost of specialized health care services and medical equipment. In most cases they were military children in need of orthopedic devices and medical services to address birth defects or conditions. This was never my expectation, I never expected that children would be given the same bureaucratic and unfeeling subterfuge employed by private insurance companies to deny coverage. It brought tears to our faces because these were children, babies in most cases in need of medical assistance. It is with pride that I say we were able to help more than 250 families since the program was created.
My work as President and Executive Director took place over the course of two Presidential administrations, each one presenting unique challenges and opportunities to push the needle forward. From the frustration of budget negotiations to the promise of a new Congress being gaveled into session, I stand by our accomplishments. Most notably the passage of the Excellence in Mental Health Act Pilot Program in 2014 to the over 350 supplementary pieces of legislation signed into law since 2013. All of which were focused on either creation, expansion or preservation of benefits, policies or programs designed to improve the lives of our military members, veterans and their families.
We did not do this alone, many of you put in your blood, sweat and tears to make this reality. There have been many moments where I thought of closing up shop and moving on, it was the encouragement and support of all of you that kept me going. In the beginning, when asked if I had a military connection, my answer was no. But now when asked, my answer is a resounding “YES!”, over these six years I have gotten to know so many of you. I have met your husbands, wives, children and pets, I’ve even been a guest at your table. Your stories have been the best motivation to push the envelope and ask why a program can’t have more money, to ask why we can’t move more resources into health care and finally to ask why not, when proposing seemingly impossible goals like individualized care plans in place of cookie cutter care.
My drive from the beginning has been doing the work, never the accolades, rewards or recognition that have come during my tenure. This organization will always be a part of me, the sleepless nights, long board meetings and seemingly endless arguments over process and procedure, plus much more. The experience was less than glamorous, filled with frustration and I cannot begin to tell you about the myriad of mistakes and missteps. But for all of the trial and tribulation, our triumphs speak for themselves and I have enjoyed every moment.
With my departure, I am confident that our Board of Directors with select an Interim President that is as committed to our mission as all of you. The search for a full-time President has started and we’re accepting applications so I encourage all to apply regardless of whether you think you are good enough. Because let me tell you that you are. In the beginning, I was told to “quit while you’re ahead kid, because you don’t know sh** and you are not good enough” but we persevered and changed things for the better.
Finally, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and belief in me, my vision and the purpose of this organization. While my tenure is coming to a close with the Military Health Project & Foundation, I look to the future because the thing that mattered in the beginning, still matters now and that was doing the work. I will continue to fight for mental health parity, improved quality of care and increased access to services and I know you will too. My hope for all of you is that you take pride in our shared accomplishments, stand strong and fight the good fight.
Jacob Hayward Angel
Founder, Military Health Project & Foundation